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Claude, 'Landscape with Hagar and the Angel', 1646

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Hagar and the Angel
Artist Claude
Artist dates 1604/5? - 1682
Date made 1646
Medium and support Oil on canvas mounted on wood
Dimensions 52.2 × 42.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir George Beaumont, 1828
Inventory number NG61
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Landscape with Hagar and the Angel

Claude illustrates the Old Testament story of Hagar, setting it in a tranquil landscape bathed in hazy sunlight. Hagar is an Egyptian servant girl who gives birth to Abraham’s child and runs away after quarrelling with Abraham’s childless wife, Sarah. Claude captures Hagar’s suffering and despair: having run out of water in the wilderness, she has left her son, Ishmael, under a bush and is praying for God’s salvation. In the Bible, this scene is set in the desert, but Claude depicts a verdant landscape that resembles the countryside around Rome.

According to the story, an angel appears to Hagar and gives her water. However, Claude shows a substantial river in the background. Pointing towards a distant town, the angel encourages Hagar to return to Sarah and Abraham. With his other hand, he points towards her, conveying God’s promise that Ishmael will become a great leader.

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